Derieko Smith returning to home state
Published 6:23 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He’s back in his home state.
After graduating from LaGrange High, Derieko Smith’s college journey included stops at schools in Kansas and Alabama.
For the 2018-2019 season, Smith will take his talents to the northern part of Georgia as he joins the basketball team at Young Harris College.
Young Harris, an NCAA Division II program, will be led by new head coach Jeremy Currier, and LaGrange head coach Mark Veal believes his former player has found the ideal landing spot.
“It’ll be closer. He’ll have a chance for his family and friends to come watch him play,”Veal said. “And coach Currier up there, his system is high energy, and he plays a lot of guys, and they press up and down. They spread you out on offense. That’s going to fit him perfectly.”
Smith enjoyed a phenomenal basketball career at LaGrange High, and he was a two-time region player of the year and an all-state selection.
Smith signed with Cowley Community College in Kansas, and that’s where he spent his freshman season.
Smith transferred to Wallace State Community College for the 2017-2018 season,.
“Coach Veal contacted (Young Harris), and I’ve got a friend who’s going there, and he told me about them, too,” Smith said. “(Currier) said I keep hearing about you, and that I like your game, and I see you playing defense.”
Currier offered Smith a basketball scholarship, and he accepted.
Smith will head to Young Harris with an associate degree, and he has been an excellent student at both of his college stops so far.
That hasn’t happened by accident.
“With my mom, it was academics first with her,” Smith said. “It didn’t matter what sport it was. It’s still that way.”
As far as his athletic pursuits go, Smith hopes to enjoy two big seasons at Young Harris and then begin life as a professional player.
“I’m trying to go overseas,” he said. “That’s my goal.”
Smith has spent a lot of time in his old gym this summer, and Veal said that’s been the case ever since he graduated.
“Every time he comes back to town, he reaches out to anybody on our staff, and he comes to the gym,” Veal said. “And he comes to the games. One game this year he was behind the bench coaching, or encouraging the kids that were out there.”
Veal added that Smith “means a lot to LaGrange High School. Not just basketball, but there are plenty of teachers up there who he has made a lasting impression on.”
Smith in turn is appreciative of all the support he’s received from Veal over the years.
“He’s a great coach,” Smith said. “He’s been helping me since I got to high school. I love coach Veal. He does a lot for me.”